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Here's Where Community College COVID Guidance Stands

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The Illinois Board of Higher Education and Community College Board released joint guidance this week as schools prepare for the next school year.

Brian Durham is the executive director of the Illinois Community College Board. Many community colleges expanded class delivery options during the pandemic to include more online and hybrid courses. He thinks that flexibility is here to stay but says most of the state’s 48 institutions are increasing in-person options this fall.

“I would say you're looking at right now about half the classes are face to face. And I expect that we'll see some uptick of that number in the fall,” he said.

While some Illinois public universities have mandated that students must be vaccinated, don’t expect those same requirements from community colleges.

Durham says it’s not practical for these schools since they don’t have residence halls, and students often register very soon before classes start.

He says the board wants to make sure community colleges have versatility within their local context.

“If you're unvaccinated, it really is your responsibility as a student when you come to campus to follow those rules and to wear a mask,” he said. “But it may vary, based on context.”

A few suburban community colleges are requiring masks no matter vaccination status. Durham says the majority are following CDC guidelines, making masks optional for fully vaccinated students.

Some community colleges are also offering vaccination clinics on campus. He says about half of the schools in the system have contracts for SHIELD Illinois saliva COVID tests and expects more to go that route as the year approaches.